Beer Types


The use of a type of yeast that will generally convert sugars to alcohol and CO2 at lower temperatures is called bottom fermentation. Bottom-fermenting yeast is sometimes referred to as lager yeast. Slower fermen­tations are associated with this yeast. The types of beer described below are bottom fermented.

Lager. Lager was developed in Germany in about the seventh cen­tury. It was first introduced into the United States by the Germans in 1840. Lager comes from the German word lagern (to store), and is applied to bottom-fermented beer in particular because it must be stored at low temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Lagers were traditionally stored in cellars or caves for completion of fermentation. They are bright gold to yellow in color, with a light to medium body, and are usually well carbonated. Unless stated otherwise, virtually every beer matfe in the United States(more than 90 percent of them) is a lager. Lager is ideally served at 38° to 45°F.

Bock beer. Bock beer is produced from grain that is considerably higher in extracts than the usual grains destined for use in lager beers. Bock, in German, means a male goat. Bock beer was originally produced around 1200 a.d. in the town of Einbeck,Germany. Today it is produced in virtually every country, in some form or another, on a seasonal basis, mostly during the winter so that it can be consumed in the early spring. Bock beers are usually quite dark in color with an intense, sharp, sweet aroma. They have a full-bodied flavor, followed by a slightly sweet, malty taste. A stronger version produced in very limited quantities in Germany is called Doppelbock. Bock beer is ideally served at 45° to 50°F.

Dark beer. Dark beer is characterized by a very deep, dark color, a full-bodied flavor, and a creamy taste, with overtones of malt, bitterness, sweetness, and caramel. It is usually produced from the addition of roasted barley during the initial brewing stages. It should be served at approximately 45° to 50°F.

Kulmbacher beer. This is beer that comes from Kulmbach, Germany. Some Kulmbacher beers are reported to have as much as 14 percent alcohol by weight, but those exported to the United States have far less. Kulmbacher beer is ideally served at 38° to 45°F.

Light beer. Light beer is usually produced by the dilution of regular beers that have been brewed with the use of high-extract grains or barley and have been allowed to ferment dry. Another method of production involves the addition of enzymes, which reduce the number of calories and the beer’s alcoholic content; its flavor is also considerably lighter. The purpose of producing light beer is to make a lower-calorie beer. A regular twelve-ounce beer has 135 to 170 calories; a light beer usually has under 100 calories. There are no current Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms rulings on minimum or maximum calorie levels. Light beers are ideally served at 38° to 45°F.

Malt liquor. This is an American term for a lager beer with a con­siderably higher level of alcohol (usually above 5 percent) than most lager beers or ales. Tastes vary from brewery to brewery and brand to brand, with some even sweetened with fruit syrup. The name comes from the beer’s malty flavor, which has overtones of bitterness. Its color is typi­cally darker than that of regular beers, and its taste is correspondingly heavier and fuller-bodied. Malt liquor is ideally served at 38° to 45°F.

Munich (or Munchener). This type of beer was originally produced in Bavaria; it is now brewed in many parts of the world. It is slightly darker in color than Pilsner-type beers, although milder and less bitter than other German types. It also has a more pronounced malty aroma and taste, with a sweet finish and aftertaste. Munich beer is ideally served at 38° to 45°F.

Pilsner (or pilsener). This is the most popular type or style of beer produced in the world. The word Pilsner is taken from the Czech town of Pilsen. Characteristically, these beers are a light golden color, with a highly pronounced hops (referred to asBohemian) flavor and a delight­fully clean, crisp taste that refreshes and leaves the palate clean. Pilsner-style beers are usually dry to very dry in taste, although there are some slightly sweet pilsners produced. Pilsners are ideally served at 38° to 45°F.

Top fermentation refers to the use of a type of yeast that generally will convert sugars to alcohol and CO2 at temperatures between 60° and 70°F, The beers described below are all top-fermented beers.

AleAle is a top-fermented beer with a slightly darker color than lager beer. It usually has more hops in its aroma and taste and is often lower in carbonation than lager-type beers. Ale is usually bitter to the taste, with a slight tanginess, although some ales can be sweet. Ales are usually fermented at warmer temperatures than lager-type beers (60° to 70°F) for from three to five days, and generally mature faster. Ales should ideally be served at 38° to 45°F.

Cream ale. This is a blend of ale and lager beer. Cream ale is highly carbonated which results in a rich foam and strong effervescence. Cream ale is ideally served at 38° to 45°F.

Porter. This is the predecessor of stout, and is characterized by its intense dark color and persistent bittersweet taste and aroma. It is lowei in alcohol than stout and should ideally be served at 55°F. It was inventec in 1729 by Ralph Harwood, a Londonbrewer, who named it after tht porters who enjoyed drinking it.

Stout. This beer obtains its dark (almost black) color from roastec barley, which has a very high extract level. It contains mostly this roastet barley, which is rendered sterile before germination, and a small amoun of malt for added flavor. It is quite thick and malty, with an intensi bitterness and underlying sweet taste. Stout is relatively low in carbon ation and should be served at 55°F.

Weisse beer (or Weizenbier)This is the German name for a bet made predominantly from wheat. It is usually unfiltered and contain some yeast residue, and therefore is cloudy in appearance. Weisse bet is ideally served at 38° to 45°F.